Late David Robert Shepherd was a retired English cricket umpire as well as a first-class cricketer who was born on 27 October 2009 in Bideford, Devon, England.
Famous for his jolly nature and unique umpiring signals, Shepherd is widely considered as one of the best cricket umpires of all time as well as a true gentleman of gentlemen's game. He was part of the ICC’s first Elite panel of Neutral umpires and had also been felicitated with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Shepherd was a down to earth person who made umpiring a treat to watch. Whether it is his one legged jigs at the score of 111 or his match-stick superstitions, he was widely accepted by the fans.
Shepherd started his career as a middle order batsman for the English county club Gloucestershire. Playing with the Second XI of the club, he scored an unbeaten century and knocked the door for the main squad. Consequently, he was added to the main squad. In his debut game against Oxford University, he introduced himself with a classic hundred.
Serving the club from 1965 to 1979, he played 282 games and scored 12 first-class centuries as well as 55 half-centuries. Overall, he had 10672 first-class runs in his name. In List-A cricket, his performance was little low as he got only 3330 runs in 183 games.
After announcing his retirement from cricket, he chose to become an umpire instead of being a coach. In 1981, he was appointed as a first-class umpire which was his first major step towards the upcoming sparkling umpiring career.
Shepherd made his umpiring debut at the 1983 World Cup and soon, he became one of the most sound and beloved official. In 1985, he stood for the first time in a test. It was fourth test of the Ashes at Old Trafford.
In 2003, he had removed Waqar Younis from bowling as Waqar was bowling fast beamers even after Shepherd's warning. Doing this, he had also become the first umpire to take such action in an international match.
Shepherd umpired in the three World Cup finals in a row in 1996, 1999 and 2003. At the time of his death, only Steve Bucknor and Rudi Koertzen had stood in more Tests. He was also the first umpire to stand in at least one Test match in all the Test-playing nations.
After starting his umpiring career in 1983, Shepherd stood in 172 ODIs including three consecutive World Cups and along with that he also officiated 92 Tests.
One of the fairest mind of cricket, Shepherd was never been involved in any controversy but still there is one stain in his career. In 2001, Shepherd gave three English batsmen out on no balls bowled by Pakistani bowler Saqlain Mushtaq. As a result, he was suggested to get a retirement by media and fans.
As Shepherd announced his retirement, he was glorified wherever he went. In 2005, New Zealand and Australian team gave him a guard of honour during a series. His last test was between Pakistan and West Indies in June 2005, after which Brian Lara felicitated him by giving him a bat.
On 27 October 2009, this ever jovial fan-favorite official died of lung cancer.